To start today, I ask students to turn to their table partners and share just 1 sentence about their books. They could ask a question (which their partner could then answer) or give an opinion, for example.
Though simple, this warm-up gets students immediately on topic for the day: their books. As I listen in, I hear good questions and interesting comments:
"Why does Celie just take [the abuse]?"
"I'm surprised Peter kept walking after getting so sick because I think I would just give up; he nearly died."
"Why did the people in that one town treat Peter so poorly?"
And so on. Students are engaged and now ready for further character analysis.
For our second day of character work, I want to see how students analyze independently. This might seem a bit rushed with only a single day of practice before this, but students did work with characterization in their previous English class (and their first practice went very well).
I ask students to identify three character traits and give specific proof from the text, including citations. I want to see depth to their analysis and a good understanding of how words, phrases, and specific plot events are creating their characters (which is what we also looked for in their previous practice). To reinforce that this is a solo check-in of their skills, I present this practice as a quiz (for some reason, students take this word more seriously than "practice").
Students work quickly, and I see plenty of books in hand, pages flipping as students look for examples--very encouraging to me.
As usual, I give students time to read at the end of the hour so that I can see them in action; this ensures that students are reading at least some of their assignment, even if they don't follow through at home.